Friday, November 19, 2010

Adin Steinsaltz Completes the Talmud

It took 45 years,but the Rav Steinsaltz has completed his annotation of the entire Talmud. Three million volumes have been sold so far, and even taking into account that the complete set (now) has 45 volumes, that's still quite a number. Add to that the fact that the Schottenstein translation now competes for the same market and may well be more popular, and the additional fact that real professionals won't touch either of them because they make the study a bit less challenging, and the fact that most people purchase only the volumes they're currently studying not the entire set, and you get a sense of how many people are studying Talmud these days. I expect this hasn't been the case for many centuries, but that's a topic for another day.


Avigdor said...

A gifted man who is a gift. The Jpost article is more interesting:

“When you learn Bible year after year, everybody becomes a minor prophet. And that is the way people in Israel are talking. They are not discussing things, they are telling you what the truth is. It is very hard when you have prophets shouting at each other; they can’t get anywhere,” he said.

“Being a prophet is a one-sided thing. But learning Talmud is learning a world of discussion, of dialectics. If people would be trained in dealing with matters in a dialectical way, with two or three opinions, and the Talmud is in so many cases not finished, it leaves an argument afloat – this is the kind of training for seeing and perceiving a different world.

Michael W. said...

I read somewhere that he completed translating the Babylonian Talmud. What about the Palestinian Talmud?

Yitzchak Goodman said...

It is interesting that you write "real professionals won't touch either of them because they make the study a bit less challenging." Lots of guys believe in using the "real thing" for learning and teaching, but I can't count the times I've seen a very learned teacher get stuck on a point and ask a student "Let me look at that thing for a minute." You see it with the Rambam L'Am and the Kehaty Mishnayos also.

Menachem Mendel said...

I agree with Yitzhak, the statement that "real professionals won't touch either of them because they make the study a bit less challenging" is simply untrue. Go see how fast copies are being sold of Artscroll in Geula and Meah Shearim and how many copies of both Artscroll and Steinsaltz are found in yeshivot, whether above or below the table. I personally think that everybody should use a vocalized edition of the gemara like the older Steinsaltz edition or Tuvia's newer edition. For most people who study Talmud it is challenging, whether you are using Artscroll or Steinsaltz. I would wager that the majority of people who study on their own w/o one of these to aid them are probably not understanding correctly what they are learning most of the time.

Y. Ben-David said...

In the town I live in in Israel I have seen the Chief Rabbi using Shottenstein and there is a Hasidic Kollel that has it on their shelves and it is well worn. It is becoming mainstream.

Yaacov said...


The Jerusalem Talmud is even harder to do than the Bavli, and until recently it wasn't much studied - and still isn't on a large scale. Steinsaltz was correct in doing the one that would serve many more people.

Which brings me to the rest of you. I admit I haven't been in any yeshivas for quite a while and can't say whats going on in them. I do talk to "professionals" from time to time, and at the very least they've still got the affectation that these are all props for the weaklings. In the three shiurim I've been in over the past couple years none of the three ravs used them, tho some of the students do, of course. I myself prefer Schottenstein to Steinsaltz, tho I can't quite say why.